Suspect in newsroom shooting had past court battle with paper, documents show
Court documents show the man suspected of killing five people at a Maryland newspaper Thursday had filed a defamation suit against the paper for an article detailing his guilty plea in a harassment case.
Law enforcement sources say Jarrod Warren Ramos is believed to be the man who took a gun into the Capital Gazette’s newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, and opened fire. Three others were wounded in the shooting. He has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, according to court records.
In July 2011, Ramos was charged with criminal harassment in the District Court of Maryland and pleaded guilty. He was placed on 18 months of supervised probation and was ordered to continue therapy, court documents show.
Less than a week after Ramos’ conviction, an article titled “Jarrod wants to be your friend” ran in the Sunday edition of the Capital Gazette. The story, which was written by staff writer Eric Thomas Hartley, detailed the case where Ramos repeatedly contacted a former high school classmate via Facebook, according to court documents.
Court records show that a year later, in July 2012, Ramos filed a complaint against Hartley and the newspaper, alleging he was defamed by the story.
Months later, Ramos filed another complaint and added a charge of invasion of privacy. The case was eventually dismissed.
The 2011 article about Ramos said he attended Arundel High School, studied computer engineering and was an employee of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A Twitter account with Ramos’ name and the handle @EricHartleyFrnd is believed to be Ramos’, a law enforcement source said. The account has tweeted several times about the paper and Hartley.
“Eric Thomas Harley knows from experience, but doesn’t appreciate how bad it can get. Journalist Hell awaits,” a tweet from the account in December 2015 read.
In November 2015, he tweeted: “In anticipation of forthcoming rape and murder, I am now officially more famous than Jarrod Radnich. Thanks JabbaTH.” The tweet captioned a screenshot of a Google search showing the name “Jarrod Ramos” appearing above “Jarrod Radnich” in the search bar.
On Thursday afternoon, authorities were questioning Ramos but were unaware of the motive behind the shooting.
Threats against the paper had been made as recently as the day of the shooting, Anne Arundel County Deputy Police Chief Bill Krampf said. The threats were general in nature but indicated violence, Krampf said.
Hartley is no longer an employee of the newspaper.
Ramos is believed to have used a long gun to kill the five people at the Gazette and injure three others. Anne Arundel County Executive Steven Schuh told CNN he was found hiding under a desk in the building when police arrived.
Ramos, who is in his 30s, did not have any identification with him when he was arrested, according to a law enforcement source.
Two law enforcement sources said his fingerprints appeared to have been altered, which made it difficult to identify him, but one law enforcement source said he was identified through facial recognition software.